You may know that St. Cloud is also known as the Granite City. Our annual festival is called Granite City Days, Granite City Food & Brew was founded here, many other companies have names like Granite City XYZ, and even our tourism brand used to be called visit Granite Country. But do you really know why that is? We’ll tell you!
Since its founding in 1856, St. Cloud has had a history of many valuable manufacturing industries thriving here. Though a sawmill was the first major manufacturing organization in town, it soon became the granite industry that really defined St. Cloud. With the first quarry opening in 1863, there are now over 30 granite quarries in the Greater St. Cloud Area. And thus, the “Busy, Gritty Granite City” was born.
Granite from the St. Cloud area can be found in buildings, monuments, and homes all over the United States.
- The longest granite wall is located at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud. This 1.5 mile long, 22′ high, 4.5′ wide was was constructed entirely by prisoners over 11 years using granite that was mined from quarries on the prison grounds.
- Coldspring Granite, founded in 1898, is one of the largest granite companies in the North America and Canada. Granite from their quarries can be found all over the United States, including the University of Notre Dame, Kennedy Space Center, the Martin Luther King Jr., National Korean War, and FDR memorials, Mount Rushmore, West Point Cadet Barracks, Chicago Riverwalk, US Air Force Academy, and more.
- Check out local granite at many area attractions, including Lake George, Beaver Island Trail Extension, the Stearns County Courthouse, Skalicky Plaza at St. Cloud State, and many more.
Explore the Past
Several area parks and attractions highlight the former glory of the granite mining days and allow you to get up-close and personal with these vast, deep quarries.
The most well-known park dedicated to showcasing the history of the granite mining industry is Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, which is a part of the Stearns County Parks System. This 683 acre preserve is home to 20 former granite quarries (that were operated by the old Liberty Mining Company), in which you can swim, scuba, fish, climb, and admire. The park has miles of trails for hiking, skiing, biking, and relaxing, and there is even a historic mining display that includes the Derrick house and the Derrick itself, which was used for mining granite years ago.
Another hidden gem in St. Cloud is George Friedrich Park, which was formerly owned by Gottfried Hilder’s granite quarry business before it was bought by St. Cloud State University in 1934. Today, the 50 acre park is owned by the City of St. Cloud, and it is home to several beautiful former quarries as well as hiking paths and unique picnic areas.
We encourage you to visit the Busy, Gritty Granite City so you can see both the ghosts of this industry’s past, as well as all of the current operations and installments of St. Cloud area granite all over town.